Friday, April 18, 2014

Blogger Opp!  Coach Tote Giveaway Event!

Blogger friends, check out this great opportunity to get in on this giveaway event.  Readers - consider this a heads up to come back on April 28th and enter for your chance to win!

Coach Tote Blogger Opp

Grand Prize

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Sign ups end Friday 4/25/14

Event Dates 4/28/14 – 5/12/14 at 11:59pm

Cost

1 free link with announcement OR $5 fee Get the announcement here: http://bit.ly/1h9xwsS
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Fun Friday: The High Museum of Art

If you have been reading, you will recall that I was planning an eventful yet frugal Spring Break.  We started at a local park and hit Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw via Groupon.  A friend offered us her guest passes to the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  Rounding out our Spring Break fun was a pleasant surprise!  I won tickets to the Go West exhibit at The High Museum of Art from Sue Rodman, of Field Trips With Sue!  I highly recommend you sign up for Sue's newsletter in order to keep up with tons of great happenings in Atlanta and beyond!  




While I was thrilled to win the tickets, I wondered how much my kids would really enjoy the High.  I got the answer almost immediately after we started exploring!  The very first thing we came upon was a room just for kids!  


The room was full of hands-on activities.  Drawing stations, a magnetic wall, puppets that were definitely for touching, and super cool foam building pieces.  My guys had a great time in there!  


When I finally dragged them out, it was with impatience to see the main exhibit, Go West.  First, though, a stop at the cafe downstairs for Dirt Pudding and the yummiest chicken-spinach salad.  Guess who ate which item:



Finally - Go West!  



The exhibit was full of art from different mediums.  Kids being kids, my men seemed most interested in the 3D art - sculptures and the displayed items crafted by Native Americans.  I was gratified to see my oldest son, 12, note certain types of paintings and guessing at the materials used.  He's a budding artist himself and it was fun to see which pieces held his attention and why.  




Fun for both the kiddos was, of course a very modern device in the midst of the Old West surroundings!  The computer program held various backgrounds of paintings; the kids could add in other items - people, animals, landscaping - to make their own masterpiece!  After Thing 3 was on there long enough to add about 400 buffalo and a jeep to his Old West landscape, it was time to move on.  

We finished the exhibit and wandered into a few other galleries.  I was again interested in what my oldest would think.  We laughed over the abstract works that you look at and think, "I could totally do that in my basement."  

I wanted to mention a really cool exhibit that we just stumbled into.  Thing 1 was drawn to a display of photography that was manipulated with different techniques.  He's a nature-lovin' boy, so he was pretty fascinated.  



We toured the Morell exhibit and had fun pointing out the most interesting photos.  This was my boy's favorite:



This picture does not AT ALL do it justice; I really only snapped the picture to remember the print for later.  We hit the gift shop in hopes they would perhaps have a postcard of some of Morell's prints.  They did, but not from this particular exhibit. But I love that my son was exposed to a collection of work from an artist that he really seemed to appreciate.  

My guys were growing weary and a little bit visually overstimulated.  There was SO much more to see; I would love to bring my oldest back on a "date" some time to show him more.  

The Go West exhibit has closed; up next is an exhibit titled "Dream Cars"  that I'm sure all three of my sons would enjoy!  It opens May 21st.  

Thanks again to Field Trips With Sue and the High Museum of Art for helping us round out or Spring Break on a Budget!   Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hump Day Update

No Workout Wednesday today since I haven't been running - whomp whomp.  Momma's taking a little break but will be back at it soon; the Peachtree Road Race isn't gonna run itself, ya know!

Here is, however, a check-in of what's been going on, what's coming up:

Pinterest:  I love Pinterest.  


I"m totally revamping my Mom's Magical Miles Pinterest boards, but doing it a little at a time - nobody  likes a flooder.  A flooder is someone who spends 2 hours on Pinterest, pinning images of, say, vintage toilet pull chains.  All you see when you pull up your Pinterest account is toidy parts for columns and columns.  I don't wanna hog your feed.  I'll give you the heads up when it's ready, but in the meantime head on over and follow me - watch the progress!  If you follow me on Pinterest as "Amy Albers", please do me a solid and follow me as Mom's Magical Miles - I'm going to be using that one primarily.  

I still owe you posts from our Spring Break Adventure - we hit the High Museum of Art on the last day of our break.   

Springtime in the ATL rocks, because we've found all kinds of things to do, including The Atlanta History Center's Sheep To Shawl event!  1850's history in a kid-friendly style - my guys had a blast.  And a petting zoo.  Because I hear those were big pre-Civil War.



Let's talk Disney.  Always.



Registration for the WDW Marathon Weekend opens today at noon for Annual Pass Holders and DVC owners.  Are you in?  Some of us have to wait for regular old non-magical AP registration on the 22nd.  That's right - I'm putting it out there.  I'm joining a handful of the DisBroads running our first full marathon.  I have lost my mind.  

If you will be joining me in this madness, be sure to check in with Jenn Greene at Destinations in Florida.  She just got in amazing rates on select Disney resorts.  She also has access to discount tickets for her bookings, so fill out a quote request and see what she can put together for you!  Oh - you don't have to be running to get these deals!  

Finally, the reminders of what I am promoting - because Momma has obligations:

Lego KidsFest Atlanta - get your discount tickets!   Better yet, win some from me!  Read about it and enter here.  We are actually planning summer camp and vacation around this date so that we don't miss it!

If it's getting hot where you are and you ARE running.... ahem.... don't forget the Cocogo!  I've had the chance to have several ambassadorships, but they were things that I would not have bought or been involved with if I wasn't given a discount or freebie so I turned them down.  I'm a proud Cocogo Real Fruit Hydration ambassador because I use it, love it and have made it a staple in my running gear drawer.  The code "MomsMagicMiles" gets you 40% off the purchase of 2 or more boxes at the Cocogo store!  

Hope your week is going great and we'll see you on Friday for our High Museum visit!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Vs. Kindle for the ADHD Child?



My oldest son was holding out on me.  

He's ADHD, emphasis on the "H".  For the longest time, it was a struggle to get him to read anything without pictures - Big Nate, Wimpy Kid, that sort of thing.  I foolishly thought he struggled with reading.  I thought he was self-conscious because his younger brother is a voracious, advanced reader.

After going through a battery of edu-testing for his ADHD diagnosis, the boy's report came in - well above average in fluency and comprehension.  Say what?!  Time to step it up, Sparky.

Just setting expectations, however, does not get the bulldog fed.  The bulldog, in this case, is his middle school requirement of reading 25 books of at least 150 pages in length during the school year.  He tried to argue with me that Big Nate had over 150 pages but I stomped that weaksauce attempt pretty early in the year.

It's been a struggle.  He's logged 18 books so far and he's only got a month left in the school year.

Hello, Kindle.



There is something about the Kindle that is friendlier to his brain than an actual book.  I am NOT any kind of expert - just a mom with a struggling kid.  But I noticed that he whips through a book on my Kindle in twice the time it would take him to read that same book in the traditional format.

My theory is that when he sees the thickness of the book and how many pages are in a chapter, his impatient heart dies a little.  His brain starts shutting down, already advancing to how long this chapter is going to take, how many pages this book has.  On the Kindle, it's just what is in front of him.  That's it.  No pressure.

Somehow, that's magical.

I haven't needed to play with my settings, but this is the beauty of my Kindle Fire - you can do all sorts of things to manipulate what is on the screen to make it more reader-friendly for your child.

First, the background.  You can leave it traditional white but if that's too much of a glare you can change it to a less stark beige color.  Also, you can flip it to a negative effect and have white words on a black background.  Even if that isn't required to help your child's processing, sometimes just the novelty of changing the screen appearance will be enough to keep a kid focused.


Play with the settings.  The drop down menu has all kinds of good stuff.


The tabs up top with the letters allow you to adjust the font size.  The second row is where you select the background color.  Third row allows you the choice of making the text less wide.  Finally, the last row allows you to increase the spacing, again giving you the advantage of making less words on one page if that is a factor in your child's reading.

Okay, that's great but.... do I really plan on buying that last 7 books my kid needs to read?  Nope.  Not all of them.  I can make a few purchases that might be $5 or $6 dollars but I plan on visiting our library's online collection.  The above Sea of Monsters?  Yup - downloaded from our library's e-book collection.  There are a lot of other books on Amazon.com that are inexpensive daily deals or free, including tons of "classics"!  My older kids love the entire series of Wizard of Oz books and they cost nothing on Kindle.

Have a reluctant reader?  Give a Kindle a shot!

I was not compensated in any way for this post.  Just a mom trying to help others find what works!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Flavor at Your Fingertips - Restaurant.Com has a Mobile App!

Disclosure: I will receive a Restaurant.com gift card in exchange for my promotion of this product.  No other compensation is offered.  All opinions are my own, and I honestly think Restaurant.com is all kinds of awesomesauce.  

With a family of five, saving money when eating out is a big deal.  

You know what else is a big deal?  Restaurant.com!  I've purchased from them before and gotten some absolute steals for feeding my family.


They save you tons of money on restaurants that you frequently visit.  But what if you're on vacation and not familiar with the area?  What if you have been running errands in a different part of town and aren't sure what's close?




Using location-based technology, the Restaurant.com mobile app allows you to connect to great savings and restaurants on the go! Simply tap the "Deals Near Me" button to find restaurants near your location or type your zip code or city to locate flavor right at your fingertips. Did you know Restaurant.com offers nearly 50,000 online dining deals at thousands of restaurants nationwide? The deals are easy to use, never expire, and are available to use right away. The best part, if you change your mind on the restaurant choice, you can exchange anytime, no questions asked. 

Found a restaurant with a great deal? Present the certificate to your server on a mobile device, and voila - the savings will be deducted from your final bill.


Receive a FREE $10 Restaurant.com eGift Card with Your FIRST Purchase on the Restaurant.com Mobile App!Restaurant.com is offering a FREE $10 Restaurant.com eGift Card with your first purchase on their mobile app!* http://rst.cm/uKE4q

Don't miss out on this exclusive offer! Download the app now at Google Play or the iTunes App Store until Wednesday, April 30. 




*Your first purchase via the Restaurant.com mobile application may qualify for a free $10 Restaurant.com eGift Card. You can download the Restaurant.com mobile application on iTunes App Store or Google Play. The purchase must be made between Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 1:00AM PST and Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 11:59PM PST to qualify, and must be your first purchase through the Restaurant.com mobile application. Restaurant.com reserves the right to change the promotional period at anytime. Previous purchasers via the Restaurant.com mobile application are not eligible. One free eGift Card per qualified purchase. The $10 Restaurant.com eGift Card will be emailed within 24-72 hours following the purchase. eGift Cards can be redeemed online at www.theidealmeal.com for a restaurant specific certificate. eGift Cards cannot be redeemed at any restaurant. Restaurant.com is not responsible for undelivered, lost or stolen eGift Cards.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fun Friday: Atlanta Blooms at The Atlanta Botanical Gardens



The boys and I were lucky enough to be given a friend's guest passes for The Atlanta Botanical Gardens, just in time for spring break!  Spring has mercifully and blessedly hit Atlanta - this was the perfect time to visit!


We started out with a stroll on the Canopy Walk.


One of the startling sights you see from the Canopy Walk was Earth Goddess in process!  The Atlanta Botanical Gardens does an amazing job of blending art and nature!


The main show, though, was the massive amount of tulips that were placed throughout the garden.




In the center is a one-of-a-kind Dale Chihuly blown glass fountain.  The whole scene was breathtaking.

On our way through the gardens, we stopped for a quick break to enjoy some of the other sculpture.


We made our way to one of my son's favorite parts of the gardens - The Fuqua Conservatory.  Stepping into the conservatory is like stepping into the rain forest!  A lush, green environment with winding paths to explore and surprises to find - we spotted frogs, turtles and quail enjoying free rein in this habitat!


When you go to the back of the Conservatory, you are rewarded with an absolutely beautiful orchid display!  Again, the people who install the exhibits do a wonderful job of complimenting created art with the inherent art of nature.


Outside again and on our way to the big draw for my guys - The Children's Garden!  But first, just when I thought we had seen all the tulips, my favorite ones of all lined the walkway.  


Are those not amazing?!?!  I've since learned they are sometimes referred to as "Tiger Lily" tulips.  Hmmm.... more beautiful than my version from Disneyland's Tinker Bell 10K.  ABG #FTW.






The Children's Garden is a wonder.  Educational and playful at the same time.  Kids can learn the lifecycle of a caterpillar to butterfly by walking through those changes.  Dig for pretend dinosaur fossils while seeing a real one on display.  Be walked through the "Bee Dance" next to an actual bee hive.  


Also at the garden is a fabulous sunflower fountain.  It wasn't turned on for the season yet, but be sure to bring a towel and a suit or change of clothes on your next visit - the kids will have a blast!  See all that shade?  It's great for tired parents, too!


My boys love the Children's Garden and we spent quite a bit of time there.



What I love about the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is that the exhibits, like nature, are always changing.  We can't wait to come back to see what new flower displays there are and to see the ever-fascinating art installations that are placed around the gardens.  

Speaking of, there are some old favorites that never change.  I realized we missed my absolute favorite this trip - Frog Baby.  This sculpture shows a naked little boy, a frog in each hand, as absolutely happy as a kid can be.  It's special to me because it reminds me of my own little Frog Baby - my oldest, now 12, who is never happier than when he is playing with slimy critters.  

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
Sculpture by Edith Baretto Parsons
There is a snack  bar and a cafe inside the gardens; food is not allowed inside.  However, the gardens are right next to Piedmont Park so my crew and I picked up our picnic lunch from the car and headed over after our tour of the gardens was through.  

It was a great way to spend a day and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens will always be high on our list of favorite places to visit!  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

That Time I Got To FanGirl The Chief Kingdom Keeper...

Can't. Stop. Smiling.

I really don't know how I stumbled upon this, but I think Sweet Baby Jesus put in my path the news that Ridley Pearson was going to be doing a super limited book signing tour for the newest (and last - sadz) Kingdom Keepers VII  .  Hey, guess where he's coming?  To a small book shop on Main Street in Woodstock, GA.  The town right next to mine.



Proof that I've been livin' right, y'all!

Out of all the places that a multi-bestselling author would stop on a book tour, I would not peg Woodstock, GA as being high on the list.  He spoke at two schools nearby earlier in the day and was hitting Fox Tale Book Shoppe at 4:30.  I aimed to be there.

I grabbed Thing 2 (#1 was still in school and #3 wasn't much interested.  He is only 5, after all.  We forgive his pedestrian Dr. Seuss tastes) and headed over.  The boy was warned that there would be a line, but he was so excited he still raced ahead of me to the book shop.



Yes, there was a bit of a crowd but it really wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought.  And it was a Disney crowd.  I'm telling you - wherever I go, be it a half marathon or a Disney-related book signing, these people are My Tribe.  Friendly, always happy for someone else to eavesdrop and jump in the conversation.  No pushing, no shoving, no Stink Eye.

Ridley Pearson spoke for a few minutes to the crowd.  He mentioned that there were a few things that he imagined - like Escher's Keep in Cinderella Castle - but many things in the books are straight from the parks.  He spoke of how this was the last Kingdom Keepers book as he prefers his stories to have a definite beginning, middle and end.  He did mention, however, a new 3-book KK "adventure" titled "The Return" in the process, so there IS hope for fans who are sad to see the series end!



Ridley got down to the business of signing and we got down to the business of, well, waiting.  I let Thing 2 play on my phone with strict instructions to keep checking the battery - I needed at least 25% for a picture!

It was great to see the author interact with all the people in front of me.   One man mentioned that his daughter couldn't be there - Ridley told him to get her on the phone.  He took a minute out from signing to speak with her on the phone!  He was really great with the preteens - asking them questions and taking time with them.

It was our turn!  I told Ridley that we were "even".  I wrote a blog post a while back on the Kingdom Keepers Series and how great it is.  He sent me a direct message on Twitter:



Yeah.  I think BOTH our year's have been made.

After I told him about that, he said, "I meant it.  When you work on something for 8 months, it means a lot to hear someone say, 'Hey, I LIKE that!'."  The man is a bestselling author a gazillion times over and he still is grateful to random fans like me.  He was amazingly gracious and humble.  My son told him that we've also read all the Peter and the Starcatchers series and Ridley seemed genuinely flattered.  We parted with him telling me "I'll see ya on the internet!".



It was such a great experience for both me and my son.  You never know what you are going to get when you meet a celebrity and Ridley Pearson did not disappoint.  He was amazingly gracious and genuine.  After we left. my son kept saying, "I can't believe I met Ridley Pearson!  I can't believe I got my picture made with Ridley Pearson!"  He asked if I could print the picture out so that he could take it to school the next day along with his book (we each got a book autographed).  I will say, his older brother seemed a bit jealous when we got home!

Thanks, Ridley Pearson, for putting out great books over which my boys and I can bond.  We have spent many a bedtime reading aloud about Peter, the Starcatchers and now the Kingdom Keepers.  We look forward to what you will dream up next!